Aston Martin Racing Evolution Academy driver, Devon Modell, continued his podium streak in the Hankook 24H Series by helping to take Speedworks Motorsport to second in the SP3 Class at the 12H Zandvoort (29-30 May), to now head the category’s Drivers’ standings.
Modell jetted out to The Netherlands earlier in the week to coach teammate John Gilbert and learn the circuit’s 13 turns himself, before taking to the track for his first competitive outing in qualifying on Friday (29 May).
Completing a total of nine laps and setting the third quickest time (1m49.536s), Modell was first to take the reins for the opening stint of the 12-hour race, which would see the heavens open to leave the circuit resembling a river than a race circuit.
As the puddles deepened, Modell unfortunately dropped to fourth in class during the opening stages of the race, before a differential problem for the sister Speedworks Motorsport Ginetta GT4 promoted him up to third in class.
It wasn’t long before Modell was knocking on the door of second position, but, with a maximum time limit of two hours allowed for each driver’s stint, the Kent racer peeled into the pits and handed the the Aston Martin V8 Vantage over to teammate, Ollie Hancock, who would continue hounding his rivals to conclude the day’s action still third in class.
With the race taking an overnight break, the cars were placed in Parc Fermé conditions until the action resumed on Saturday (30 May) morning, where Hancock propelled the team to the class lead.
Pitting for fuel dropped the Speedworks entry down to second position, but Gilbert ran a stable and comfortable race, before handing back over to Modell, who set lap times several tenths quicker than most of the field to build an ever increasing gap to third position.
Hancock took over from Modell with less than five hours remaining during a Code 60 – a Virtual Safety Car that slows drivers down to 60kph – and would drop down to third in class, unable to make up ground.
Nevertheless, the team continued to push on and, with less than two and a half hours remaining, Modell jumped into the driver’s seat for the final time and put pedal to the metal in a bid to catch the class leaders.
With his visor down, nothing was going to interrupt Modell’s chase of a second place finish and it wasn’t long before he disposed of his rival and pulled out a gap of a lap and a half to all but cement the team’s position.
With only a handful of minutes left, Modell pitted comfortably from second position to allow teammate Gilbert to take the chequered flag, where, after 12 hours of racing and 322 laps, Modell and teammates would spray the champagne once again and leapfrog Optimum Motorsport to the head of the Drivers’ standings.
“It was a pretty good weekend, and to be leading the championship is great,” said Modell. “If we can continue this run of podium finishes, fingers crossed we will still be leading come the end of the season, as it’s consistency that wins championships. We were on slicks for the first 15 to 20 laps; I had said that the conditions I experienced in the recent Britcar 24 Hour race were some of the worst I had ever raced in, but this weekend at Zandvoort has now surpassed that. I was aquaplaning at 60mph, on the radio to the team calling for a Code 60 before somebody had a serious accident. The nature of the track, being located close to the beach, means that there is very little grip, but the car handled brilliantly and I didn’t have any major moments.
“With these sorts of endurance races you have to take the conservative approach. If you go into a corner too hot you could make up a second, or just as easily throw it into the barriers and bring your race to an end. With 12 hours of racing, you have to take your time and try pressurising your rivals into mistakes and seize on them. At the end of the day, it’s not a sprint race. Overall, I am very happy with how the weekend unfolded. If we can continue this strong form throughout the remainder of the season, there is no reason why we can’t win the championship.”
For more information on Devon Modell and his racing activities, please follow @Devon_Modell on Twitter.